The Krayt Dragon landed at its usual berthing place, in the docking port near the city where Shadie stayed. Though “city” was hardly a way to describe it. The fields were vast in this part of Mandalore, and it certainly wasn’t crowded, but she liked it. As for the docking port, it was a scarcely used one, situated in the middle of the fields, away from the main and busy port. It was practically in Shadie’s front yard, even if it took a good fifteen minutes to walk to. It was, if nothing else, convenient.
The landing ramp lowered and Brenum and Trylia walked out, all smiles.
‘Look at you two love birds,’ said Knarf.
‘All right, don’t rub it in,’ said Brenum, ‘we’ve just had to sit through extensive talks with the Chiss Ascendancy, being all formal and proper for the Republic.’
‘What he means to say,’ said Trylia, ‘is it’ll be nice to be more open about our show of affection, now we’re among friends.’
‘Aren’t you two supposed to be on Tython?’ asked Fane.
‘We are,’ said Trylia. ‘We’re picking up some supplies along the way, that’s all.’ She smiled.
‘It’s good to see you,’ said Fane, smiling back at them. Everyone hugged. ‘Hey, check this out. Shadie and I showed Knarf how to construct a lightsaber.’
Knarf unclipped the lightsaber from his belt.
‘Nice hilt,’ said Brenum.
Knarf took a few steps back and ignited the blade. It glowed a gentle, yet bright orange light.
‘You found a crystal in your colour,’ said Trylia. ‘It suits you so well.’
Knarf twirled it around a bit, showing off the hiss and buzz it made. There was a whistle. Everyone turned to see Talyc approach.
‘Impressive lightsaber, Bes’laar,’ he said. Knarf twirled it around some more to show it off even more.
‘Talyc, good to see you!’ said Brenum.
‘Likewise,’ said Talyc, acknowledging Brenum and Trylia. ‘Fane, my man! Haven’t seen you in a while.’ He pointed behind him. ‘Saw you at the tavern with Lashika, though. How’d that go?’ Fane shrugged.
‘We’re going for drinks later, by the way,’ said Shadie. ‘You’re coming along, right Fane?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, I need to meditate.’ Fane seemed flustered.
‘Well, I’m certainly going,’ said Talyc, ‘I’m assuming the invitation includes me?’
‘Of course, it does,’ said Knarf.
‘Fane, you sure you don’t want to come along?’ asked Shadie. ‘We’re all going.’
‘I’ll be there,’ said Talyc. ‘It would be nice if you came along. I know buying you a drink won’t repay you for saving my life, but I do feel safe around you.’
‘You don’t owe me for saving your life, Talyc,’ said Fane.
‘I want to… repay you. At least let me buy you a drink, again. They’ve got the best Tarisian ale, aged to perfection, given the hundreds of years.’
Fane looked from Talyc to the others. ‘Tempting, but…’ His expression hardened. ‘No. Sorry.’ He looked at Talyc. ‘Jedi duties.’
‘Oh, well, if you change your mind,’ said Talyc, looking dejected.
‘Please excuse me.’ Fane left the group. Shadie signed.
‘What’s up with him?’ said Brenum.
‘Well, you were there when he explained to Master Herl’unik why he felt he couldn’t return to the Jedi Order just yet,’ said Shadie. ‘I think there’s something troubling him. Every time I think I’ve grasped what’s going on… I think we best leave him be for now. Let him clear his mind.’
* * *
Relsor and Perce strode at a brisk pace along the long corridor. It felt good to have purpose again. Since Coruscant, Perce had not had the chance to focus on their cause to take over the galaxy.
‘The dark side will be strongest there,’ said Perce, ‘and then we can sense where the light side is at its strongest, where it’s at its weakest, without encountering any resistance in the Force from whomever is averting your Force attacks.’
‘You make me feel like a fool for not thinking of it myself,’ said Relsor.
‘I don’t expect you to think of everything.’
They arrived at the command console. They had retrieved pieces of the flotsam from the battle on Kromus’s starship and Perce was going to slice into Kromus’s console and retrieve the coordinates they needed.
‘I require but a few moments,’ said Perce. ‘This shouldn’t take long.’
He felt the console through he Force, and let it guide him as he sliced into the main computer, fuelling it with the Force to keep it functioning long enough for him to work his magic. He muttered a series of numbers out loud. Relsor took note of them as he dictated them out. When Perce was done, he let go of his Force connection to the console and it powered off.
‘You got the coordinates?’ Perce asked Relsor.
‘In my datapad,’ replied the Chiss.
Now, they could go find Kromus’s infamous abandoned Crypt and hopefully, find more than just Force energy, and hopefully, what or whom they would find, would join them. After all, if anyone had been left behind by Kromus to continue his legacy, they’d surely want to join the True Sith. Kromus was Perce’s former master, who had appointed him to apprentice under Darth Gourd when he was very young as a means to keep tabs on him, which is how Relsor and Perce became acquainted and joined forces as allies. Relsor had been much stronger in the Force than he had been making out to be and Perce had caught on early on that Relsor did not agree with all his uncle’s rules. Revealing to Relsor Darth Kromus’s secrets and plans had convinced Relsor they could overthrow Darth Gourd, assuming Shadie would eventually kill Kromus, and then the True Sith would be theirs. Perce’s true allegiance had been to Relsor for as long as he could remember, pretending to serve Gourd, relaying all plans, all orders, everything, to his true master, Relsor, who had become his master early on. Perce had been more trained by Relsor than by his other two masters. Going along with Gourd’s plans had been part of Relsor’s elaborate plan to help bring on Darth Gourd’s demise. Patience allowed Shadie to take care of Kromus without their interference.
Now, Relsor and Perce would go to the Crypt and claim its powers, and claim whoever remained there, if anyone remained there. Perce would speak on behalf of the Followers of Kromus and he would recruit those who dwelt at the Crypt. And then he and Relsor could amass their grand army. This musing filled Perce with great satisfaction.
* * *
Fane tried to focus his mind, but he could not clear it. He felt like an idiot. He closed his eyes and thought about the words of advice Lashika had told him. His heart yearned to go join the others. He had accepted his fate, but it did not mean he could not enjoy himself.
He gathered his things and left for the tavern.
He found his friends sitting together at a table, laughing and drinking. Shadie sat holding Knarf’s arm; their chairs were close together so they could cuddle. Brenum and Trylia held hands, and Trylia was very demonstrative of her affection in a way that was still subtle enough to be graceful. Talyc was dressed in civilian clothes, and surprisingly, had no ladies around him.
Fane approached the table.
‘Fane! You made it,’ said Shadie. ‘Pull up a chair.’
Fane sat down between the two couples, sitting across from Talyc.
‘Glad you could join us,’ said Brenum. ‘I heard about your disastrous date.’
‘Brenum,’ said Trylia, ‘I’m sure it wasn’t disastrous, though I do find Lashika a bit, I don’t know.’
‘Speak for yourself,’ replied Brenum, ‘I find her…’ He trailed off, watching Trylia’s expression go from a smile to a scowl. ‘Never mind.’
‘No ladies?’ Fane asked Talyc.
‘Nope!’ Talyc replied dryly, crossing his arms. ‘Doesn’t mean I don’t intend on bringing anyone home with me tonight,’ he added as a lean Cathar walked by him, putting her hand on his shoulder, displacing his shirt, which was already half unbuttoned. Fane rolled his eyes.
‘Oh, this is ridiculous,’ whispered Shadie.
‘If you mean him, then I agree,’ said Knarf, pointing at the doorway.
Dargoza entered the tavern, followed by the rest of Clan Dargoza.
‘What is he doing here?’ said Talyc, menace in his voice.
‘It’s ridiculous, as Shadie says, that he would dare show his face here after I so elegantly beat him at his own game,’ said Knarf.
Dargoza approached their table with heavy steps. ‘You do not dictate to me, slicer,’ he said in a very accented basic.
‘A leaderless clan doesn’t have a hold on this place,’ said one of his clan mates. ‘You got no leader, Talyc. Your clan is dispersed; it’s nothing. The name Kandera is a disgrace. You’re going to find yourself clanless. And then you’ll be the shame of Mandalore.’
‘Shut up, Wapita,’ Talyc shot back. ‘I’m not the one with a name that sounds like it was cooked out of a scrapheap pile of poodoo.’
‘At least I don’t hang out with Sith,’ Wapita retorted.
‘Who’s Sith here?’ said Brenum. ‘We’re Jedi. Someone’s got some wires mixed up in their head.’ He made a twirling motion with his finger.
‘She used to be one!’ Wapita pointed at Shadie.
‘Yeah, so I’d watch out you don’t fuel my anger, if I were you,’ Shadie replied. ‘You never know what I might do.’ She turned to the others, rolling her eyes. ‘Just ignore them.’
‘His brother was one!’ Wapita pointed at Fane.
Fane shook his head. He’d heard it before: his brother the Sith; he, himself, turned dark and killed his Master. He felt enough guilt and shame about it even today. This was another reminder of why he had decided not to return to Coruscant.
‘That’s what I’m doing, Shadie, ignoring him,’ said Fane.
Dargoza laughed. ‘And then, I hear he turned to the dark side and killed his Master,’ the Trandoshan said. ‘Do we really know they’re Jedi and not Sith? Can they be trusted or even allowed to continue to live on Mandalore? Scorekeeper would give great honour for the defeat of such foes.’ He pointed at Fane. ‘He just a Sithspawn!’
Talyc stood abruptly and walked right up to Dargoza. He stood chest to chest with the tall Trandoshan. Shadie and Knarf stood instantly; ready to go to Talyc’s defence at any moment. Brenum and Trylia slowly stood. Fane just sat there, bewildered. He hated the insult, had heard it before from some of the other Jedi after what had happened, after what he had done, but it had never angered him the way it seemed to anger Talyc.
‘What’s that, Dargoza? Eh?’ said Talyc, looking the Trandoshan straight in the face.
‘Sithspawn!’ repeated Dargoza, slowly, taunting.
‘That’s rich, coming from you,’ said Talyc. ‘I’d watch who you called that, if I were you.’
‘You can’t come at me, you could never defeat me, Talyc.’
‘Couldn’t I?’ Talyc took a step forward, Dargoza doing the same, each trying to intimidate the other by pushing the other back. ‘You forget where you came from, Dargoza. As I recall, your mother was a Sith. Seems to me the only Sithspawn in this room is you!’
‘Scorekeeper will grant me points for crushing you.’
‘What are you going to do, eh? What are you going to do!’
Dargoza pulled his arms back, and then forward for a punch to the face, but before his fist could strike Talyc’s face, Fane had stood up and used the Force to push Dargoza back. The Trandoshan went crashing into the counter behind him. Talyc whirled around to face Fane. Fane shook his head, looking at the scene and at the others. He walked to the tavern door and left.
He could hear someone exiting and hurrying behind him.
‘Fane!’ called out Talyc.
Fane just kept on walking. ‘I don’t need you to fight my battles for me, Talyc,’ he shouted out over his shoulder. ‘I don’t need you to defend me. I can fight my own battles.’ He turned around and spread out his arms. ‘I’m a Jedi, remember? I can fight my own battles.’
He turned back around and kept on walking, taking the field. His emotions were charged; he realised he was walking more and more quickly.
‘Fane, wait!’ He could feel Talyc trying to keep up with him.
‘Go back, Talyc. Go back to your ladies, or to whomever it is you’ve got waiting for you back there.’
‘I don’t… I don’t want all those ladies.’
‘Then what is it that you want?’ Fane could hear the frustration in his own voice.
Fane heard Talyc stop walking. Fane kept on walking briskly.
Fane stopped suddenly. His heart felt like it was going to explode out of his chest. After a pause, he looked over his shoulder at Talyc.
* * *
Talyc stood staring at Fane who looked sterner than he had ever seen him. What had he done? He looked away.
‘What am I saying,’ he laughed, embarrassed. ‘Look at me; I’ve had too much to drink. Forget I ever said anything.’
Fane turned to face him. Talyc gulped; he felt his chest pounding. He stood his ground. He was Mandalorian; he could stand his ground in the face of battle, in the face of fear, in the face of death. He stared at Fane whose expression was hard to read.
Fane walked right up to him and stopped inches away from his face. Talyc clenched his jaw.
‘I don’t want to forget,’ said Fane.
Talyc breathed in deeply. Had he just…? He looked at him for what seemed like a long moment. Fane shook his head.
‘I don’t want to forget what you just said,’ repeated Fane. ‘But what about all those ladies you bring home all the time?’
‘I don’t. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like to admire everyone’s beauty, and some of them aliens have women who look very… Let’s just say there are more men than ladies who have come home with me, and even then, they were just a bit of fun. And I don’t bring someone home with me as often as I make it seem I do.’ He paused, working his mouth to say something more, unable to find his words, holding his breath. Then, finally: ‘I’ve never felt this way before, Fane. I’m sorry you had find out like this.’ Talyc glanced down momentarily before returning his gaze to Fane.
‘Talyc,’ Fane smiled, blushing, ‘I feel the same way.’
‘You do? I mean, I was hoping, and I thought… I thought, but I wasn’t sure… I mean…’ Talyc trailed off. Both he and Fane let out a one breathed laugh, looking sideways, which made them laugh some more. Talyc looked back at Fane.
‘Why do you think I stayed?,’ said Fane. ‘I told the Jedi Council I wasn’t ready to return because I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from you, even if I thought there was no chance I’d ever… And when Kelbourn…When we heard about a Mandalorian who had been killed, I was so scared that it was you. When I saw you, I could hardly contain my emotions. I was overwhelmed, relieved.’ Fane shook his head. ‘Why do you think I saved your life?’
‘I don’t know, you’re a Jedi. But no matter how much I’ve tried to fool myself, for the past two years, the person I’ve truly wanted to bring home is you. Fane, it’s always been you.’
‘It’s always been you for me too.’
Talyc smiled, he laughed shyly, feeling himself blush. He felt so relieved. He looked down at the ground.
‘Guess I can be your man now for real,’ said Fane.
Talyc looked up at Fane who beamed at him. He smiled and nodded. His heart somersaulted, or something to that effect.
‘So,’ said Fane, ‘uh, nightcap? Somewhere where Dargoza won’t bother us.’
‘Yeah, that sounds good,’ said Talyc.
They began walking, at a much slower pace than before.
‘By the way, you look good without your armour. That outfit suits you.’
‘Oh, I’ll look even better without it,’ Talyc teased.
Fane whipped his head to look at him, while using the Force to bring Talyc closer to him, much closer. They were almost nose-to-nose, Fane had a hand on the bare part of Talyc’s chest, before seeming to realise what he’d done.
‘Sorry,’ said Fane, blushing.
Talyc lunged forward and pressed his lips against Fane’s, wrapping his arms around him. Fane returned the kiss, not even allowing Talyc to move away from his lips, and it felt like such a relief to be feeling whatever it was this was. Next thing Talyc knew, he was on top of Fane, on the grass. If this was what it felt like to feel “the energies” that Knarf had so often described to him, then he could only imagine the intensity of how Fane could feel them through the Force.
Fane lifted Talyc’s shirt off him and Talyc hurried to remove Fane’s tunic.
‘You have no idea how many times I’ve fantasised about this moment,’ said Talyc.
‘You have no idea how many times I’ve tried not to fantasise,’ replied Fane.
Talyc smiled. Fane’s bare chest felt like no other Talyc had touched, his lips tasted like no other he’d tasted. Talyc and Fane wrapped each other in each other’s arms, caressing, kissing, and feeling those energies.
* * *
Jassahmi slunk back down into the foliage, her dark green face a perfect camouflage in the underbrush where she crouched. She put her macrobinoculars away in her knapsack. She had stumbled upon a gem; she hadn’t seen much, mind you, but enough to take mental note of the new development. She would have to keep an eye on those two, the Jedi and Mandalorian.
Jassahmi was confident she was far enough to avoid detection through the Force, but there was no use in hanging around. She turned and walked back the way she’d come, leaving the two men to their outdoor privacy. She smiled, this was something she and her partners could certainly exploit in the future, depending on how things developed. For now, it didn’t matter so much. She would wait, and then she would share the news to her partners.
“Seekers of Darkness” is written by Celinka Serre (2020).
Disclaimer: The Characters in this Fan-Fiction are new and have original names. The story is an original written work. The story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Star Wars. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the SW Old Republic universe belong to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney. No characters or story lines from the films are used. No story lines or characters from the games or books are used. A handful of characters from the games may be referenced, but are not the main focus in this fanfic story. This fan-fiction story falls under Fair Use.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.